1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Ritchie

Anonymous, Obituary in The Kaleidoscope [Liverpool] 2 (7 March 1820) 140.



The death of this intrepid and intelligent Traveller has already been noticed in all the public journals. With the precise time of this lamented occurrence, and the circumstances attending it we are however still unacquainted; but it appears to have taken place at Mourzouk, 400 miles south of Tripoli, whither he had proceeded with a view of penetrating to Timbuctoo, by the caravans which regularly cross the Great Desert. Mr. Ritchie had a previous attack of that fever which is the great scourge of Europeans in those fatal regions, and his recovery from it inspired hopes that his constitution had become inured to the climate; and that during the rest of his journey he would be unvisited by this dreadful scourge.

Mr. Ritchie was a native of Otley, near Leeds, and was educated as a surgeon at York. He was subsequently recommended to Sir Charles Stuart, the British Ambassador at Paris, as family surgeon and private secretary; in which capacity he remained some time. But, actuated by a thirst for knowledge, he renounced the fair prospects of advancement, which that situation offered, and embarked in the undertaking which has so sadly terminated. He was a man of uncommon talents and unwearied industry, an excellent classical scholar, well versed in most of the modern languages of Europe, and master of nearly the whole extensive range of modern science. In person and features he bore a striking resemblance to the late Mr. Pitt. His disposition and manners were extremely amiable, and procured him universal respect; and the writer of this article, in his death, has to mourn the loss of an early and much esteemed friend.

Though nothing has ever been published in Mr. Ritchie's name, we believe he was the author of various papers and essays which have appeared at different times: and amongst others, the chapter on the sate of education in France, which was inserted in a late edition of Scott's Paris Revisited, was the production of his pen. His poetical talents, too, were of no common order; and we subjoin, as a specimen, the following lines, which were written during the passage between Dover and Calais, when he took his final leave of this country, which he was destined never to revisit ["Thy chalky cliffs. . ."].